David Acheson on Food Safety in 2022: Squalls Ahead!

Jan. 24, 2022
The FDA will turn 'New Era of Smarter Food Safety' talk into action, while USDA/FSIS will focus on salmonella reduction.

As we discussed in last month's column, 2021 was a highly challenging year on all fronts for the food industry … and with the COVID-19 Omicron variant on a rampage, we are definitely not out of the woods.

At least in the first quarter, the industry will continue to be hit with absenteeism, temporary workers, supply chain disruptions and general production challenges; and throughout the year we see both FDA and USDA's Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) having some very focused regulatory agendas and industry expectations.

To weather the challenges while meeting regulatory expectations, we foresee more and more entities looking at the 2022 manifestation of food safety culture in their facilities. Businesses are seeking to determine if employees are seeing food safety as a collective issue. Are they taking ownership or seeing it as “someone else’s problem” to deal with? Ensuring a culture of food safety has been growing in focus, and it will become even more important as we deal with the outside pressures of 2022.

On the regulatory horizon, we see FSIS continuing its focus on Salmonella in poultry and FDA continuing to navigate the depths of traceability.

Food Safety and Inspection Service

The leaders of FSIS have made a commitment to reducing Salmonella in poultry. It’s not the first time such a commitment has been made, as prior administrations have attempted to tackle the issue as well, but there has been little progress made. While Listeria and E. coli issues have been somewhat reduced, Salmonella has refused to drop. So the agency is again taking the helm to lead the industry into a reduction through regulation.

Salmonella in poultry is, in fact, likely to become a huge focus in 2022, though we’re not sure of the direction the regulators will take. They may declare specific serotypes to be adulterants; they may look for enumeration; or they may focus more on the lifecycle. Whichever course they take, you can expect it to follow a resolute and steadfast track toward measurable reduction.

[javascriptSnippet ]

Food & Drug Administration

It should come as no surprise that we see traceability – which has lurked for so long on the horizon – coming to the forefront in 2022. FDA has been talking about its The New Era of Smarter Food Safety, and we see that talk turning to action this year, with new traceability requirements being finalized. Helping to enable progressive traceability is FDA’s leveraging of molecular technology, e.g., whole genome sequencing (WGS), which we don’t see slowing down at all. Each day the database grows larger and stronger, increasing the likelihood that something could track back to your facility.

And when an issue is connected to you … FDA is expecting the industry to move very swiftly. There will be very little slack in FDA informing you of a situation in which your product was implicated, stating that they are issuing a press release tonight and asking what you are going to do about the problem.

With all this, whether you are a food or beverage facility under the answerable to FSIS or FDA, our top recommendation for 2022 is: Be Prepared.

The storms will continue in 2022; the headwinds will blow, the turbulence carrying riptides and undertows. All brought challenges in 2021, which the food industry navigated extremely well, but I don’t see things slowing down or abating any time soon. So, the best you can do is stay informed and keep food safety and employee welfare as top priorities, and be prepared: We will come out on the other side of the storm, but at least a few squalls still lie ahead.

Sponsored Recommendations

Troubleshoot: Grittiness in gluten free cookies

Learn how to adjust gluten free cookie recipes for a softer texture.

Clabber Girl: Rising Success

Uncover how Clabber Girl Corporation achieved a remarkable 7% growth and improved manufacturing efficiency by seamlessly integrating Vicinity's batch manufacturing solution with...

Intelligent Blends: Taking Technology to the Next Level

Find out how our friends at Intelligent Blends use VicinityFood and Microsoft Dynamics GP to produce the best coffee around.

Key ingredient: Mother Murphy's Laboratories

Flavorings manufacturer Mother Murphy’s Laboratories integrates front office with production facility — improving operations from initial order to final invoice.